Day ten: classic apple pie

Apple pie is always better in the fall, when the markets are overflowing with all kinds of varieties directly from local orchards.  Mr. R and I make a point to go apple picking every year, and with more apples than we ever know what to do with, always end up making a pie or two.  Apple season has long passed in my region, but I nonetheless felt I’d be remiss in ignoring this classic dessert — how can you do a whole series on pie and leave out apple?

We’re all familiar with the phrase “as American as apple pie,” but, truth be told, apples are native to Central Asia and apple pie was enjoyed by Europeans long before the tree was ever introduced to the thirteen colonies in the 17th century.  In fact, the Wikipedia article on apple pie suggests that the phrase was created during prohibition by the apple industry to maintain the fruit’s popularity after cider was banned.  Regardless, it is an enormously popular dessert, and the US is the #2 producer of apples in the world (after China).

Crisp, tart apples such as granny smith are best in pies, but using a mixture is always good, and don’t be afraid to experiment with other varieties.  At the farmer’s market in the fall, apple vendors should be happy to discuss with you which of the varieties they’re selling would taste good in a pie recipe.

Apple pie traditionally uses a double crust.  I usually like to make a lattice top but you can do whatever you’d like.  As with many fruit pies, the results can get awfully watery, so tapioca is added as a thickener.

Apple pie
This recipe has been adapted beyond recognition from various sources over the years. 

Ingredients
1 double pie crust
6-8 medium apples, peeled, cored and sliced.  I used a mixture of granny smith and mcintosh.
3/4 cup sugar
1.5 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
2 pieces crystallized ginger, minced
2 tablespoons tapioca
1 egg, beaten lightly

Make pie dough and place in fridge to chill.

Peel and slice the apples and place in a bowl.  Add sugar, lemon juice and zest, salt, spices, and tapioca. Mix thoroughly.

Roll out the bottom crust and press into pan.  Roll out the top crust and use a ruler with about 1 inch width to assist in cutting lattice strips.

Pour apple filling into crust.  Most recipes I find call for 2 lbs, or about 8 apples, but I generally find this to be too much.  The crust should be overfilled but not excessively so.

Place half the lattice strips across top of pie.  Lift half of them, lay another strip across them perpendicularly, and place lifted strips back down.  Repeat with other strips until woven together in a lattice.

Uh, that sounds kind of confusing.  Just watch this video at about 4:40 (or watch the whole thing for a blueberry pie recipe!).

Press ends into edge of pie and crimp.

Brush the lattice pie with an egg wash — we used pure egg yolks which I think burned a little too dark.  Try a whole beaten egg or even just egg whites.

Sprinkle with raw turbinado or decorative sugar.

Place pie on a cookie sheet with some parchment paper as this one has a tendency to overflow in the oven.

Bake in an oven preheated to 425 for 10 minutes.  Cover pie with a piece of foil and reduce heat to 325.  Bake for another 40 minutes or so, until inside is bubbly but not runny.

Served à la mode, does it really get any better than this?

-R

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